It is typical of me to take on projects not knowing 100% how it is all going to transpire. Then, in the mystery of not knowing or being frustrated, eventually new skills are learned and generally the level of mastery is upped ever so slightly. In this case, the challenge at hand is figuring out how to line everything up with logical perspective guide lines.
On the one hand, it seems like one would just use the same reference points that Vermeer used. BUT – this tunnel has multiple paintings incorporated into one long tunnel with varying heights, plus a slope on both ends. Every variation has run through my brain in the past week.
There are MANY technical and expert theories, studies and interviews online regarding Vermeer’s use of perspective and whether or not he used a camera obscura. After reading a bunch of the info, everything points back to just using what feels comfortable until it looks right. It is possible to over-analyze something.
First I fought it and only wanted to use a pencil and paper with this latest perspective study for the Vermeer tunnel.
Then it just seemed smarter to take it into a 3D modeling program, Sketchup. Unfortunately this is not one of my stronger qualities, so it was a challenge to put in the angle of the sloped bike path. Now it is easier to play around with lines without having to redraw anything by hand. I prefer drawing with a pencil, not a mouse, but in this case it is actually pretty useful. Click here for the whole perspective study album so far.
It is not uncommon for artists to typically use as many tools as we feel necessary to accomplish the best end result. Ironically enough, many traditional graffiti artists see tools as “cheating” and are fixated on only using “can control” (based on my experience in Los Angeles). At my first International Meeting of Styles invitational paint jam in Zurich in 2011, I spoke with an Italian artist that gave me more confidence to use everything in my arsenal and not worry about the rest. I have used reference photos, taken photos of the actual wall and made adjustments at home on the computer and then painted in the adjustments; I have used straight edges, tape, stencils, pieces of cardboard with holes or ripped edges, glitter, basically whatever… HOWEVER I have also sketched out whole graffiti pieces directly on the wall with a can with barely any mistakes. The day I finally accomplished that (about 7 – 8 years in) was the day I finally felt like a badass with a spray paint can. Below is what I consider one of my best sketches directly on the wall (2013, Delft).
This is actually my fourth project with confusing checkerboard perspective issues. It is continually alluring because of the difficulties.
As to the final decision of the tunnel’s perspective lines, that has not happened yet. I still want to play around with it some more in Sketchup, but I am leaning towards each major section having its own independent perspective lines. This is somewhat of a 360 degree perspective type thing technically but I am not willing to forgo creativity or the simple joy of painting for technicalities. The moral of the story is that there is a lot to learn still and without challenging oneself, there are less opportunities to advance your skills.
Not calling myself a master artist by ANY means, but it will get done and I will have learned something. That is the addiction of art — the next one can be better.
Update (later the same evening) — The Sketchup Mockup now has some Vermeer images dropped in. I knew it would be relatively small in comparison to the tunnel as far as actual ratios, but now there is a visual to ponder. Just goes to show how much room for creativity there is! The addition of The Little Street is a new inspiration. In the long white middle area there will be some big fat letters along the lines of “Vermeer” and “Delft”.
Thanks for reading my blog. (The cops are waving, not writing me a ticket.)
A few related links –
- Essential Vermeer has an incredible amount of information about Vermeer. Here is the page with rooms by Philip Steadman (see next). http://www.essentialvermeer.com/vermeers_rooms.html
- Vermeer’s Camera’ is a book by Philip Steadman, giving an architect’s point of view on the matter. www.vermeerscamera.co.uk./
- A rich tapestry of multimedia sources, an encyclopedic 2000+ page web site on Johannes Vermeer & 17th Century life in Delft by art historian Drs. Kees Kaldenbach. https://kalden.home.xs4all.nl/
- Super technical but interesting perspective study. http://www.gutruf.at/reconstructing_vermeer_s_pe.pdf